10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty ImagesKanye West and Kim Kardashian.

Good morning.

1. US stocks closed mixed on Wednesday, paring losses from a tech selloff earlier in the day. Boeing, Facebook and AMD reported earnings that beat analyst expectations. Twitter posted its second-ever quarterly profit. Facebook’s better-than-expected results also assuage investor concerns about the impact of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Meanwhile, a rising 10-year Treasury yield lifted the US dollar to its highest level since January. That saw the Aussie dollar slide, hitting the lowest level seen in 2018.

2. Britain will be forced to pay its $71.8 billion Brexit divorce bill even if it leaves the EU without a deal, according to the chief of the government’s spending watchdog. British Prime Minister Theresa May and Brexit secretary David Davis have repeatedly warned they will not pay the bill without a trade deal. But Sir Amyas Morse, auditor general of the National Audit Office, said the payments will become legally binding as soon as the UK signs a Withdrawal Agreement.

3. The Turnbull government has abandoned the $8.2 billion Medicare levy increase, declaring a stronger budget outlook means it is not needed to fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme. The levy, the biggest new revenue measure in last year’s budget, had no foreseeable prospect of passing the Senate in full, because Labor only supported a rise for those with incomes of more than $87,000. More here.

4. French President Emmanuel Macron has taken some subtle shots at Trump after days of flaunting their bromance. In an address the US Congress on Wednesday Macron called on the US to reject “isolationism” and “extreme nationalism”, and urged the US against “closing the door to the world,” saying that would “not stop the evolution of the world.” Earlier in the week, their bromance was on full display when Trump brushed some dandruff off of Macron’s shoulder while saying, “We have to make him perfect. He is perfect.” And who could forget the awkward over-the-top, 6-second handshake-bro hug-kiss.

5. Russia claims the US missile strike on Syria largely failed — and that it has captured US missile technology. A Russian general also said Russia would send S-300 missile defenses into Syria in the “near future.” The Pentagon has forcefully pushed back on the claims, pointing to a lack of evidence on Russia’s side, and said Russia “should move humanitarian aid into Syria, not more weaponry.”

6. Kanye West took his apparent love for Trump to a new level on Wednesday afternoon when he tweeted a photo of himself wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat. In response to the tweet, Trump said, “Thank you Kanye, very cool!”

But it’s unlikely to make his wife Kim Kardashian very happy after she previously made him walk back his support for Trump.

7. The Target effect. The age-old saying goes that if you walk into Target to buy one thing, you’ll almost certainly leave with 100 more. Well, this doesn’t happen by chance. Target uses secret strategies such as clever marketing, the positioning of products, and the treasure hunt-like experience of shopping there to ensure you never walk out of its store with just one item.

8. Russian soccer player Artem Dzyuba was loaned to Arsenal Tula after a falling out with manager Roberto Mancini at Zenit St. Petersburg. With Arsenal and Zenit set to meet, Dzyuba offered to cover half of the cost, putting down the equivalent of over $AU105,700 for the right to face his old coach. The move paid off, with Dzyuba scoring a late equaliser and going on to celebrate in front of the manager that spurned him. Some are calling it the most spiteful goal of the year.


9. Fact: Teens would rather break a bone than lose their iPhone. Nomophobia used to describe no mobile phobia and it’s something a whole lot of teenagers really struggle with. Tech Insider asked teens, “Imagine you have this very unpleasant choice. So, you can either watch your phone tumble to the ground and shatter into a million pieces or you can have a small bone in your hand broken.” This is the result:

Tech Insider

If people are willing to endure physical harm to keep their phones that obviously suggests that this is a major issue.

10. S.T.E.A.L.T.H. The Alabama National Guard recently posted a photo of a sniper remaining still as a southern black racer snake slithers across his rifle during a training exercise. “Our snipers are trained to remain perfectly still for hours on end when in position and remain invisible to enemies and even wildlife,” it wrote in the caption of the photo on Facebook. Here’s just how close the snake got:

US Army

BONUS: Here’s why you should never release your goldfish into the wild

Have a great day.

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